“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”(Revelations 3:15-17, NRSV)
The President supports same-sex marriage. Surprise!! It’s a political position that honors his reading of the Constitution and upholds equality under the law. It’s an important position because it brings consistency and equality to a nation that has nearly always been unequal in its execution of the law (see race, ethnic,gender, class distinctions). He says he has been evolving and while that may be true, reading the text of his presidency already saw a continual movement in one direction. The President’s position also exposes the deep rift in this country regarding reality versus perception.
We distort arguments to validate our position. We allow our preachers and pastors to throw the Bible and it’s God to the dogs when it talks about wealth with responsibility, women’s roles, sacrifice and obedience, injustice and righteousness and nearly every other subject we as a society disagree with, but want any passage that speaks against homosexuality to be foremost in our spiritual discipline. Really? Really?? Really!??
For many in our society, the President’s words are deeply problematic. Being for traditional marriages and civil unions is one thing, but being for gay marriage is something else. Really? Black communities (in some instances a bastion of homophobia) who voted for him in record numbers now are questioning their allegiances in ways that they never questioned Bill Clinton (when he knowingly cheated on his wife). Black church pastors who touted their involvement with helping to bring awareness to Barack’s campaign are now silent or withholding support because they can’t “condone a President who is against the word of God.” Insert expletive of your choice here….
People of faith can disagree about matters of faith and that is fine. We cannot disagree about reality though. The reality is….
…that the Bible is NOT as clear as we like to think about the sexual standard for God. Several texts speak against homosexuality, while others say love your neighbors as yourself. Don’t stone me, I won’t stone you?! The Bible in several places speaks strongly against homosexuality for cultural and sociological reasons (wrapping it in theo-logos) but it also treats women in a way that we abhor for those same cultural and sociological reasons. Why is it permissible to be for in way scenario and against in another? For the same reasons though? Choose you this day………
The reality is…
….that we don’t believe everything that’s in the Biblical text ANYWAY. Our behavior toward one another in general bears this out. We don’t believe, Jesus really died on a cross. We don’t believe that David slew Goliath and we don’t believe that “it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than pull a camel through the eye of a needle.” For if we really believed those passages as much as we believe the ones about homosexuality, then we would be different. We would have a little more gratitude and gratefulness because of an empty tomb. We would view many more of our challenges as empowered believers as opposed to deflated fear mongers. And we would have a lot less of our possessions because we needed to “get into heaven.” We would act different and live differently. Jesus himself says, “I judge a tree by its fruit,” and now I see the tree as bearing the fruit of hypocrisy.
The reality is…
….that many of the same black parishioners, pastors and clergypersons who are criticizing the President so often employ, collect money from, and even counsel members who are gay and lesbian. Some of those members are forced into secrecy and live double lives so as to not be “outed” and ostracized from family and friends. All the while their Pastors preach a gospel of being your best self and being transparent before God and humanity. It is widely known and accepted in many Black churches that the choir directors, some choir members, and musicians are gay and lesbian. These churches operate under a spiritual DADT policy that gives the church everything that they want on Sunday without the church having to acknowledge the hypocrisy to which they operate under. We the church rather have our individuals live out a lie rather than stand to tell a corporate a truth.
The reality is…
…that the President is elected to be President. He ain’t my pastor or the chief theologian of the empire. He is a political animal with opinions. He has every right to support, advocate and petition for his agenda however he wants. I do not expect or require whoever the president is to attend church, read a Bible, or even be Christian. I do expect them to govern fairly, equally and within the bound of the Constitution. Get over it, President Obama is a Christian and he is a politician, (you can decide which one comes first). He also is a Christian and he is for same-sex marriage (you can be both).
The reality is….
…that we as a nation (particularly as Christians), do not take marriage seriously. Marriage historically is not a religious phenomenon. Marriages were global and not rooted in some expression of God to humanity. Marriages have been and are cultural expressions. To watch any wedding is to see a cultural dynamic at work. Because religion is so often intertwined with culture, the two are inexorably linked. But that is an educated argument that can be persuasive for the logical. Let me be real... Churches have failed to counsel, promote, educate and engage the questions people have in their marriages. Divorce rates are through the roof. People get married and have children for tax benefits, money, fame and nearly every other reason under the sun, but if gay people get married, its the end of stable and loving families as we know it? Really? Wanna keep marriages strong? Be consistent in your commitments, loyal to your spouse and stop peeking in everyone else’s window!
The reality is that God wants consistency. The text above admonishes the Church and its body of believers to be “hot or cold”. One or the other. This or that. For God or against God. But not both. Be consistent in your living of God’s precepts or else fail in your living within the life of God. It seems rather self-evident that if you are not consistent, then you are inconsistent. But the witness of the text, is that the standard is always consistency and not holiness (true the Bible doesn’t agree on this either). The same is true in the prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible, don’t worship me if you not gonna DO and BE the stuff that I need you to be (see Amos and Jeremiah). At some point, God wants to count on you to be love, be faithful and be steadfast which may mean that holiness may have a different context to be lived out.
I believe that what concerns God most is our consistency in approaching God and applying the texts of our faith. The same-sex issue is the slavery issue of our day. We were inconsistent then and we are inconsistent now. Churches can practice whatever they want to practice.
If they don’t want to practice same-sex marriages, fine! Don’t! But be real, blame it on doctrine and tradition and not on God. It ain’t God’s fault.
You wanna be against the President? Don’t! That’s your business. Blame it on your ideology and not your Bible.
Believe gay folks are going to hell? That’s your belief and you can keep it. Just blame it on bigotry and not God. Say what you want, God did create Adam and Steve, Mike and John, Sarah and Jane, Adam and Eve, David and Sally, baby girls and baby boys, malformed and disabled, friend and foe, liberal and conservative, Me and YOU! God created everybody and everything! Recognizing the sacred worth in our society as basic people created in the image of God is a universal truth. Being consistent with how we treat them is a vision of truth.